Tonight on Insight Jenny Brockie will ask ‘How are dowry and bride price customs evolving in Australia?’
Dowry and ‘bride price’ practices are alive and well in some Australian communities.
In Melbourne, South Sudanese man Chol Goch was proud to negotiate and pay a high price for his new wife Ajah Wuoi. Ajah felt more respected by her community after she recently brought in the price of $70,000.
Salpha Dut, from the same community, has been working 11 hours a day, seven days a week for the past three years in Hobart to save up for his wife who is waiting for him to afford and trasnfer 250 cows before her family will let her move to Australia. Despite the hardship, Salpha says he doesn’t have a problem with paying for a wife.
But not everyone is happy to accept the traditional way of doing things without challenging it. South Sudanese lawyer Nyadol Nyuon tells Insight she is against dowry and bride price and says it promotes gender imbalance. She would like to see it abolished but she recently married and accepted her husband paying a large price for her to keep her family happy. She says this highlights the cultural clash within new communities in Australia as they negotiate old traditions in a new setting.
In Sydney, Sheron Sultan, a model from a South African background, asked her Austrian boyfriend Nick Toth to pay lobola, the bride price, as she wanted to uphold her culture and keep her ancestors and family happy. But the couple struggled with the concept of paying for a wife until they interpreted the tradition in a new way to make it their own.
Similarly in Brisbane, Naseema Mustapha tells Insight she personalised her Islamic dowry by requesting her husband-to-be Mohamed to buy and slaughter a goat to cook it and feed the poor.
The program also hears from a young Indian woman in Melbourne, Roopa, who describes how the dowry custom destroyed her arranged marriage.
This week Insight examines the future of dowry and bride price in Australia and hears the stories of new communities struggling with old traditions.
Tuesdays at 8.30pm on SBS.